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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers


Our second stop in Texas was Waco, to visit The Silos, the downtown multi-use destination owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines and made famous on HGTV, and to see some of the houses featured on their hit show Fixer Upper. We signed up for a Fixer Upper tour in the afternoon with Brazos Tours, then headed downtown to the Magnolia Store at The Silos.

A few years ago, Chip and Joanna, who put Waco back on the map in a big way, bought the two old, out-of-use silos that were downtown landmarks, and they began building around them--the Magnolia Store, a bakery, food truck and picnic spaces, and soon, a wedding chapel.

We spent a good long while in the Magnolia store, me looking and longing and trying to find something small and lightweight that I could use in the camper, Len expressing amazement at all the "stuff" and being very patient.

I settled on a pretty realistic bunch of faux tulips and a little ceramic jar to put them in. I also found a round basket just the size I had been looking for to hang between two pictures--and nothing weighed much at all!

We took a trolley to one of the shops Joanna frequents, where I found this cute apron covered in cats that had the perfect colors for our camper. We stopped for lunch at a nearby pub that was across the street from where our tour would start. It had been threatening rain most of the morning, and it did rain, but almost entirely when we were inside; how lucky can you get?

Lunch done, we headed across the street to the Hilton, where the tour would begin.

After years of renovating run-down homes, Chip and Joanna have moved on to growing their brand and developing B&Bs and vacation homes around Waco. Thanks to them, tourism in Waco has BOOMED! They've also bought DIY Network, which will be rebranded Magnolia Network in October and will feature their new projects, including the wedding chapel, which they're relocating and restoring next to The Silos, and a castle-soon-to-be-B&B (pardon the raindrops on the window, but we shot this from inside the van).

Our tour took us past projects old and upcoming. Brazos Tours had bought the Three Little Pigs House, one of the houses Chip and Joanna redid, and now operate it as a guest house. Since it was not occupied, we got to go inside!

It wasn't quite as Joanna designed it--the first owners had taken the furnishings--but Brazos had recreated the magic as closely as they could, with the exception of turning two offices into bedrooms. It was kind of like meeting a famous person--they're never as tall as you expect them to be; the space very cozy. But it was so nicely redone ... I would love to have Joanna's talent!

There were other stops on the tour: the original (tiny) Magnolia Store, Jimmy Don Holmes's metal shop, where Jimmy Don signed the (rather heavy) sign we bought ...

... and Clint Harp's woodworking showroom, where I found a simple wire cookbook holder that weighs next to nothing (always important in a camper). Clint's family used to live next door (fans will remember when the Gainses redid the house), but because of paparazzi and pushy fans, he's had to move to a different location. Chip and Joanna have also had to move away from their farm for the same reason. Locals are now being very protective of their celebrities.

After the tour, we browsed through another shop featured on the show, then stopped at the Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes, and headed home. It was a full day, a fun day, and God bless my husband for indulging me!

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